Remembering those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer

Published 9:00 am Sunday, July 17, 2016

Whenever we have one of those warm, lazy summer days, I will sometimes think back to a quieter time when life seemed so much simpler than the hectic world we live in today.

Back in my childhood days we didn’t have all the technology we have at our fingertips today.

Most, if not all, of our entertainment was created by us kids, on our own and without structure. I really do believe  our generation, for the most part, turned out pretty darn good.

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I can recall many warm July nights when I would sleep on sheets on the living room floor because it was way too hot upstairs in my bedroom. Our air conditioner was a window, but we did have one small fan, which my mother used for her beauty shop during the day.

I can remember lying in bed at night listening to the crickets chirping just outside the window and wishing for just a breath of a breeze to find its way through the window screen.

As kids, we would be fascinated by fireflies or as we called them, lightning bugs. I can remember chasing them around the yard on a hot summer’s night — to a kid they were indeed a marvel to behold.

Even today, when I spot one I consider it one of God’s gifts to nature. I haven’t seen much of those little rascals lately, and I actually have to pause, and wonder if all the spraying for mosquitoes we do in the city hasn’t had an effect on other insects.

As the fair approaches, I sometimes think of my boyhood friend, Pat Smith, and the fun times we would have in the summer, especially those leading up to and including the fair. I have written before about riding with him on his pony, Scout, which was one critter I suspect was put on this earth to torment me.

Scout was a Welch pony, so it was somewhere in size between a pony and a full-grown horse. The horse was a pinto and, actually, a very attractive animal — like the old saying goes, “beauty is only skin deep,” and this horse seemed destined to prove that to me.

I had, at different times, tried to warm up to the horse by petting it and scratching it behind the ears, which my dad told me, horses as well as dogs always seemed to like.

Whenever I would try it on Scout he would usually try to bite me or give me a head butt. I eventually got used to the fact when we were going anywhere on that horse, I had better plan on ending up on the ground. I told Pat I didn’t think the horse liked riding double, but he just told me  I shouldn’t let the horse know I was scared. I don’t believe he sensed me being scared as much as I sensed him being just plain mean. After all this, I survived our adventures and eventually almost grew to enjoy the challenge.

There were some summer days when we would walk to the fairgrounds from my house, which wasn’t really all that far. On one of those hot summer days, we were walking across Vern Torgeson’s freshly-cut hay field, which was right by the slough, when we encountered frogs and grasshoppers everywhere. I don’t know why this particular day stuck with me — maybe it was the fact it was extremely hot, or I had never seen that many of each species gathered together in the one place.

Each summer when I was a kid, I would spend a week or two at my cousin Richard’s folks’ farm west of Emmons. I loved it at the farm, once I got over the initial homesick blues I would usually get on the first night. We’d play in the hay loft, fish and swim in the crick that ran right through the farm, and I would even get to help Richard clean the calf pens. I thought this was a great time and told him so, but he thought I was a little bit nuts to like the work he had to do on a regular basis. Those were fun times and when Richard’s dad finished milking the cows each morning, he would rinse out the milking machine, feed the cats and use the rest to make slop to feed the hogs.

Those were the days when farmers might plant 180 acres and raise their own cows, hogs and chickens, along with planting a large garden. You just don’t see that much anymore as, one by one, the small farmers have been bought out by larger ones.

I still think back to those simple times and the fun I had spending summers on the farm or just doing simple things with friends. One thing  most kids today miss out on is doing things spontaneously. Instead, they have their “free time” mapped out for them. It would be nice if we could get back to just letting kids be kids.

Please take a little time to make a few summer memories by sharing time in the outdoors with family.

Summer is a great time to get away from all your electronics and make your own outdoors adventure.

Please take some time to honor those who have sacrificed so much for the freedoms we enjoy today. Take a little time to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice, those who served and those troops who are serving today.